Fitch boys win third straight ECC title

Fitch's Conor O'Donnell surges ahead of Bacon Academy's Dan Barrack to help the Falcons win the 4x800-meter relay during Saturday's Eastern Connecticut Conference Track & Field Championships at Montville High School. The Fitch boys won their third straight team title.
Fitch's Conor O'Donnell surges ahead of Bacon Academy's Dan Barrack to help the Falcons win the 4x800-meter relay during Saturday's Eastern Connecticut Conference Track & Field Championships at Montville High School. The Fitch boys won their third straight team title. Tim Cook/The Day Buy Photo

Montville - Rich Kosta said he didn't get much rest on road trips last year with his Fitch boys' track team, which won the Eastern Connecticut Conference championship and went on to finish second in the Class L state meet in apparently noisy fashion.

On Saturday, the team that continued the Fitch High School legacy by winning its third straight ECC championship was characterized differently by Kosta, its longtime coach.

"This is kind of a quiet team. They're quiet kids all around," Kosta said. "They're not demonstrative. They come to practice every day. They're hardworking kids."

Fitch, which closed the regular season unbeaten for the third straight season earlier in the week with a two-point win over Ledyard, finished with 114 points Saturday, followed by Ledyard (82), East Lyme (78) and New London (72.5).

Fitch got three victories from workmanlike senior co-captain Tyler Latham, the one who Kosta said his team most closely mirrors.

Latham won the 110-meter high hurdles in 14.89 seconds, the 300 hurdles in 38.56 and the javelin with a throw of 195 feet, 8 inches, narrowly missing a pair of meet records.

New London's Orrin Parke won the 100 (10.92) and the 400 (49.93), highlighting the day's highly anticipated sprinting events - the ECC boasts several of the state's finest sprinters - and Ledyard's Bryce Hedman was a double-winner, sweeping the 1,600 (4:30.02) and the 3,200 (9:54.29).

Fitch also got wins from Brian Robinson in the discus (142-8) and the 4x800 relay team of Devin Lehman, Conor O'Donnell, Daelon Morgan and Matt Kerst in the meet's opening event.

The Falcons scored 21 points in the javelin, with Devante Anderson finishing third and Bobby Johnston fourth.

"There's not anything better to ask for," Latham said. "We have a lot of kids doing very well."

Of course, Latham might ask for a little more from himself. He usually does.

Hoping to set meet records in the 300 hurdles and the javelin, Latham came agonizingly within reach of both. He was .05 short of the hurdles mark of 38.51, set by Montville's David Job in 1998. He had the javelin record in sight for a reason; it's held by his brother Ben at 198-8 (2008).

Still, the 300 hurdles time was Latham's personal best.

"I was so close to two of them. It just makes me more focused for states. It's an awesome feeling. But I'm not going to let (being so close and not getting it) happen again," Latham said.

Latham finished both his hurdles events before having to throw the javelin, competing in the third flight. He unleashed the winning toss on his third attempt in the flight, receiving a round of applause from the event's spectators.

"I threw (the second one) and got so angry," said Latham, who was trailing Griswold's David Jackson going into his third attempt. "I let it all out. That made me feel a little bit better about myself."

Hedman, meanwhile, wore his spikes to run in the meet for the first time this season. Hedman was the No. 4 seed in the 1,600, but managed to overtake Norwich Free Academy's Connor Gralton, second; and top-seeded Jesus Osuba of Windham, third.

"I was saving them for when I needed them," Hedman said following the 1,600 of choosing to wear his spikes. "It appears it was today. ... Connor's always beaten me until today. My original plan was just to pass Jesus (coming down the stretch), but Connor was there."

Other local competitors to win individual events were Ledyard's Joe Carter in the long jump (21-1) and New London's Jelani Lucas in the triple jump (41-9).

East Lyme's Tim LaDuca, Evan Tryon, Jared Ayers and Greg Atkinson won the 4x100 relay in 44.76 and Ayers, Noah Hallisey, Tryon and Brandon Dinsmore took the 4x400.

Dinsmore, Tryon and Ayers are all new to outdoor track, coach Steve Hargis said.

"My expectation was that a good finish for them would be fourth or fifth. I told them whatever you're seeded, try to finish one up from there," Hargis said. "We had a great day."

v.fulkerson@theday.com

Ledyard's Joe Carter won the long jump on Saturday by leaping 21-1.
Ledyard's Joe Carter won the long jump on Saturday by leaping 21-1. Tim Cook/The Day Buy Photo
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